Kill ’em with Kindness: Post-SHUWPF Residency Musings

Social media has a lot of benefits, especially if you’re a writer promoting your work or networking. However, social media also makes it easier for people to act like egocentric teenage asshats. I’m not going to pretend the social media SHUWPF uses is error free of such behavior, but for the most part we’re a pretty damned loving group. Wherever there is a group of people, some drama is bound to follow. It’s unfortunate, but at the same time it is inevitable because despite the fact that we’re all writers, we all hold different opinions, beliefs, ideals, and so forth.

For the most part, I’ve avoided drama because I simply don’t like it. I just try to be nice to people and if there’s tension I can’t resolve, I’ll move on. I’ve spent too much of my life worrying about what the wrong people think of me. SHUWPF has been my saving grace because I have finally found a tribe of writers and irreplaceable life-friends that I love to bits and pieces. So fuck drama (unless it is in our fiction). I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to say thank you.

Thank you to the mentors who rocked their modules and critique workshops this term. I learned an amazing amount of information from each module and my notebook is bursting with ideas. You are so, so appreciated. I personally had an excellent critique workshop and am very excited to revise the short story I submitted this semester.

Thank you to my friends who hold religious beliefs that are so different than my agnostic ways of life. You are open and kind and fun. I love hearing about your beliefs and am grateful no one in the program has ever tried to shove something down my throat or convert me. If you do, I’ll probably just hiss and crawl away into the darkness, but I won’t be mean.

Thank you to the veterans in the program. I admit sometimes I lurk near you when you’re having a group conversation about army/marine/navy/etc… stories because I love hearing the tales. You’re fascinating and brave and wonderful, thank you for not minding my lurking.

Thank you all for late nights where we drink too much, sing off key, and laugh at our own beautiful madness. Thank you to those who promised to save me if my teaching module tanked (it didn’t!), and to others who told me what they learned from my slight obsession with poetry.

Thank you for watching the sunrise and just talking because people don’t do that often enough. Thank you for generally being interested in the work of others, for supporting their writing and coming together to help each other be the best we all can be.

Residency is intense. We learn a lot in a small amount of time, and it is amazing we have the energy to socialize at all, so when we do socialize let us remember to do it with kindness. We can’t possibly know everyone’s story and what they have been through, so kindness goes a long, long way folks.

Keep writing. Take a breath. Love something simple.


World Horror Con 2016 Recap

On April 27th I journeyed to Pittsburgh International Airport and went on my first airplane ride ever. Yes, ever. I am pleased to say the flight was simpler than driving through Pittsburgh’s traffic, road work, and closed lanes. Oh, and the car that caught on fire that also held up traffic. Flying itself was something I really enjoyed. The white ocean of clouds was mesmerizing.

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Flying over Utah.

The ground below barely seemed real as we ventured higher into the sky. The patches of land looked like velvet squares decorated with impossibly small dots of houses, cars, trees, people, and so on. Flying into Utah and staring out at the mountain caps was simply beautiful. Soaring among the clouds was a breathless, crazy adventure.

Thursday, however, is when the real madness began in Provo, Utah. This was my first World Horror Con and I had such a wonderful time. Attendance was small, (I think largely due to Stoker Con being separate this year and so close to WHC), but the smaller crowd allowed me to get to know people and have quality conversations. Despite my awkward self, I think I networked pretty well and even managed to have an editor of a wonderful magazine ask me to send my poems in. That was absolutely one of my favorite moments 🙂

I enjoyed so many panels and conversations during the con. There’s a lot I don’t know how to put into words so I’m going to highlight some of my other favorite parts below.

*The poetry slam hosted by Linda Addison. It was such a pleasure to talk with Linda and to hear her read her award-winning poetry. The slam allowed me to share my work and hear the amazing poems other writers shared. Poetry is forever my first love and being surrounded by others who share that appreciation toward the art always fills my heart with joy.

*The panels! I took so many notes. Dr. Al Carlisle’s panel on Ted Bundy is still giving me chills. Carlisle interviewed Bundy and shared some fascinating information about him that I have never read about before. Carlisle also played a recording from a conversation between him and Bundy and it’s truly haunting to hear the casual way he called the doctor up and spoke about what he had done…

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Title slide from Victoria Price’s presentation.

*Some other excellent panels I attended were Women in Horror, Simulated Slushpiles, Arnzen’s Mutterverse, Victorian Culture of Death (I got so many poetry ideas from that one), Why We Love True Crime, D.K. Godard’s amazingly fun Ballistic Gel Presentation (it was a great stress reliever to slash, slice, and take a hammer to the simulated block of ribs), Victoria Price’s (the daughter of the legendary Vincent Price) presentation on her father, and so many others! Nothing was disappointing.

*Meeting new people was really the best. I had some great lunches/dinners with Mike Arnzen, Jeff Strand, Bailey Hunter, and Bill and Jeanne Bush who’s book collecting skills I admire greatly 🙂

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Mike Arnzen, Jeff Strand, and myself. Photo credit to Jeanne Bush.

*I also had a great time chatting (and drinking) with the wonderful Brian Keene (I’ll bring the vodka next time), the fantastic Jack Ketchum (still grinning from meeting him!), the lovely Rachel Autumn Deering, and other fantastic people such as Jason V Brock, Stephen Kozeniewski, Cody Langille, Megan Reed, Connor Rice, Kelly Laymon, and others I’m sure I’ll kick myself for forgetting.

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Meeting Jack Ketchum was such an honor.

But know if I talked to you at all that I absolutely loved it! Even on my way to the airport I was still meeting new people (hey David Boop!) and adding to my list of authors I must read.

*Also, I managed to fit all the books I got into my carry-on bag which was an impressive moment.

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Lots of signed books!

Networking is so important in the writing world, and when you’re surrounded by talented, friendly people it really does make the experience smoother. The writers and artists I talked to at the con aren’t just the kind of people you network with for the sake of connections and that’s it. These are the type of people you want to keep talking to, become friends with, and absolutely 100% want to keep up with their work.

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Thanks for the good times, Provo. It was lovely.

Having a support system of fellow writers is essential to being (mostly) sane, happy, and productive. Attending WHC affirmed to me I am in the genre I was meant for. Despite the fond gaze that overtakes their eyes at the mention of death and blood, horror writers really are the nicest people.


Double the Madness: Mike Arnzen Interviews me about “Love Me Like a Murder Scene”

Last summer I was very pleased to have my poem “Love Me Like a Murder Scene” published with The Five-Two.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.45.25 AM.pngThe poem is making an appearance again for this year’s National Poetry Month! Gerald So, editor of The Five-Two, has been celebrating the month with a fantastic blog tour called 30 Days of The Five-Two.

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Happy horror writers.

I am thrilled to be a part of this tour. Mike Arnzen, who is currently my mentor in Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction program, interviewed me about the poem and made a fun page over on Gorelets
where you can hear the interview (we cackle about love and murder a lot).

During my undergrad at Seton Hill I had an independent study with Mike where I concentrated solely on horror poetry. It’s very exciting for me to still be able to share my twisted poetry with the professor who encouraged me to keep at it…even if I’m still obsessed with the Gothic romanticism that I suspect began to drive him a bit mad 🙂

But I promise I’ve branched out a bit and have some interesting poetry projects complete…hopefully I’ll be able to post more on that in the future.

Cheers, love, and murder,

Human Casket and Flower Stitches

How’s National Poetry Month treating everyone? Here’s a couple poems I’ve done so far to kick the month off:

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human casket- made with The Fridge of the Damned magnets! This piece is also over on Michael Arnzen’s Flickr page where he posts the poems made with these deliciously dark magnets (there’s also a link to get your own set!). Check it out.

And here’s one more piece for the day.

Flower Stitches

My heart is dark and dry,
but you water it with love,
pure in its coldness

the drops trickle down
my ribs and grow flowers
inside my lungs

their stems wrap around
my bones and clutch
me together

small green stitches
with black thorns
piercing from my pores

scars that bleed
make me pretty
with the blood of our love


Love Me Like A Murder Scene

“From the tantalizing title to its closing line, ‘Love Me Like A Murder Scene’ immediately got my attention and kept it. The poet uses crime scene homicide metaphors with a creepy brilliance that captures the obsessive nature of intense passion. I hope to see more from this writer in the future.” -Karen Petersen

My poem “Love Me Like A Murder Scene” is being featured as the poem of the week at The Five-Two. Check it out here!